Jorge Lorenzo led a surprising 1-2-3 for Yamaha in a fascinating first practice session of the 2013 MotoGP season. The reigning world champion had Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi within a tenth of a second of him at the top of the timesheets with pre-season favourites Honda lagging behind on the opening night.
Dani Pedrosa kicks off the season as the bookies favourite for the title but made an inauspicious start, outbraking himself into turn one on his first timed lap, an error repeated by Bradley Smith moments later before Pedrosa slid off for a second time, making it as far as the gravel trap.
The Yamahas were clear of the rest of the field right from the start with Valentino Rossi appearing to have the edge on Jorge Lorenzo, pulling out a quarter of a second over his teammate on their first runs. The factory riders were knocked off their perch by Crutchlow in the final four minutes with the Briton clocking a 1:56.743 but Lorenzo would take the honours with a 1:56.685 on his last lap of the evening. Rossi also improved on his final attempt to finish just 0.071s down but the Repsol Hondas were half a second further back.
The quicker of the two proved to be Marc Marquez as the Moto2 champion finished a solid fourth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, taking the Ducati further than many expected in the opening practice session. Alvaro Bautista was sixth on the second of the Hondas ahead of Stefan Bradl with Dani Pedrosa only eighth, over a second off the pace.
Aleix Espargaro trailed his compatriot by just a tenth of a second on the quickest CRT machine ahead of Nicky Hayden’s factory Ducati while Bradley Smith finished his first MotoGP session in eleventh place, pipping the Pramac Ducatis of Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies.
Paul Bird Motorsport endured a tough start to the season with Yonny Hernandez trashing his ART motorcycle inside the first ten minutes of the season while Michael Laverty ended the night as the slowest rider on track, five seconds away from the pace of Lorenzo.